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Letter from Dr. Gary Blau to Building Bridges Initiative Stakeholders

October 20, 2019

Dear Building Bridges Colleagues,

I am pleased to once again share my support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), and specifics about BBI’s ongoing efforts to “advance partnerships and improve lives.”  I send this update from my new position as Executive Director of The Hackett Center for Mental Health, which is the first regional center of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI).  I have been honored to have served for in government for over 25 years (10 with the state of Connecticut and 15 with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), and now I am excited to embark on a new adventure.

I am also excited to announce that BBI has a new book coming out in early 2020!  Edited by Beth Caldwell, Bob Lieberman, Janice LeBel, and myself, this new volume focuses on transformational change within residential interventions, their community partners, oversight agencies, families and youth.  And, in the final chapter, the editors recommend that 2020’s be called “The Decade of Residential Best Practices.”  Through the extensive list of individuals, consultants, organizations and entities that have endorsed the Joint Resolution, BBI intends to focus on big aspirational goals to transform services, policies and outcomes.  Aspirational goals such as:

  • Families and youth feel engaged and empowered with the treatment and support services they receive.
  • Services are culturally competent and delivered with humility and respect.
  • Evidence-based and evidence-informed practices are individualized to the unique strengths and needs of each child and family; and are developed and implemented in the program, in the home and the community.
  • All residential interventions use data to inform ongoing practice improvement and collect post discharge outcomes.
  • Strong partnerships with families, oversight agencies, advocates and community providers’ result in lower lengths of stays, and smooth and successful transitions back to home, school and community.

While aspirational, these goals are now within reach because of the amazing work that BBI colleagues have accomplished in the past decade!  We are already witnessing organizations and systems across the country meet these goals.  And, as we move into a new decade, I know that BBI is committed to extend this progress to everyone!

To assist in these efforts, BBI leadership and partners have been busy developing materials, conducting a post-discharge data collection feasibility study, and connecting efforts to recent legislation (i.e., Family First Prevention Services Act).  Below are some highlights, and please bookmark www.buildingbridges4youth.org to get the latest information:

I truly hope you will join BBI as they, along with their partners and collaborators, focus on residential best practice in the coming decade.  We hope that BBI materials and tools will assist in your efforts.  Also, please feel free to contact the new BBI Director, Mark Nickell, at marknickell.bbi@gmail.com, the BBI National Coordinator, Sherri Hammack, at svhammack@sbcglobal.net, or me at my new email, garyblau@texasstateofmind.org if you have questions or comments.

Thank you for your ongoing work to improve the lives of children, youth and families.

Best wishes,

Gary M. Blau, Ph.D., Executive Director
The Hackett Center for Mental Health
Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute


List of Resources:

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About the Author

Gary M. Blau

Gary M. Blau is the Executive Director of The Hackett Center for Mental Health. The Hackett Center was established in January 2018 as the inaugural regional center of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. Leveraging the participation of exceptionally skilled researchers, community leaders, and health care providers, The Hackett Center’s purpose is to transform systems and influence policy through unprecedented collaboration. Before Dr. Blau’s appointment as Executive Director of the Hackett Center, he spent the past 15 years as Chief of the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in Maryland. At SAMHSA, Dr. Blau provided national leadership for children’s mental health, helping create systems of care across the country and launching an array of high-impact policy and practice transformation efforts that have changed the landscape of mental health for children.

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